Even though he’s had only one fight this year, 2019 could end up being the biggest year in the career of current ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder Aung La Nsang. Following a successful title defense in March, La Nsang now faces possibly the biggest fight of his career when he takes on former UFC veteran Brandon Vera at ONE Championship: Century - Part 2.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com during final preparations before travelling to Japan, La Nsang spoke about his 2019, his bout with Vera, and what he hopes to accomplish in 2020.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Aung, tell us about your win TKO over Ken Hasegawa this past March in the rematch of your bout against him from 2018.
Aung La Nsang: For me, it was a redemption fight. I was surprised that he took the fight. I prepared very well for it so that I would get as beat up in the first match-up. It’s every fighter’s dream to fight in Japan, so that was a dream come true; and to be really well prepared for it was great as well.
I’ve fought in rematches before, and when you rematch it’s important that you have the right kind of a mindset. In a rematch the guy who lost is usually hungrier, so you have to stay motivated and be hungry if not hungrier.
MMAWeekly.com: How do you feel as the 2019 version of yourself compared to this time last year when you capped off your 2018 with your third win in three fights?
Aung La Nsang: I think I’m much more well-rounded. My wrestling has improved. I’m a better athlete. I have a better fight IQ now for sure. I know I still have room for growth and that’s what I’m always striving for.
MMAWeekly.com: Let’s talk about your upcoming light heavyweight championship bout with ONE Championship heavyweight titleholder Brandon Vera on Oct. 13 in Tokyo, Japan. What do you think about matching up with Vera and what do you feel you have to do in order to get the win?
Aung La Nsang: It came about when they had the first press conference where (Vera) mentioned he wanted to be a two-division champion, and wanted to be light heavyweight champion as well, so he called me out. It’s an honor to me have a well-known athlete like Brandon Vera call me out.
After my last fight in March, I’ve been back in training just getting ready for him. I don’t know what he’s been doing, but I’ve been slowly and steadily getting ready for him; getting sure my weight is on point and making sure there won’t be as big of a weight difference and power difference. I get the win by being in the face, making the fight ugly, and just breaking him within the first few rounds.
MMAWeekly.com: Over the last three years Vera has had just a single fight, whereas you have been far more active. Do you feel like this will impact your fight with him?
Aung La Nsang: My last three or four fights have been within the last year and a half. I’ve had more ring time and more cage time than him in the last five years. For sure I’m going to have that edge.
Even though he’s older and he’s been competing for longer, (me being more active) is going to be a big difference. I’m going to be more comfortable when I walk out. I’m going to be more comfortable when I step in the cage. I’m going to be more comfortable as the fight goes. I’ll be more comfortable with round three, round four, and round five.
MMAWeekly.com: Should you pick up the victory over Vera what do you see for yourself next? What sort of goals do you have for yourself in 2020?
Aung La Nsang: I want to stay active, as active as I can, be a dominant champion and put the world on notice that ONE Championship is the place to be for MMA; to get the notice that we need; and also improve in all aspects of MMA.
ONE Century Pre-Fight Interview: Aung La Nsang
ONE Century Pre-Fight Interview: Brandon Vera
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